Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The American Red Cross & Careforce

The American Red Cross has launched the largest mobilization effort in history. Here in Atlanta we have two Hurricane Katrina refugee shelters, and a team of churches volunteering assisting them with food, clean clothes and toiletries, and preparing to go to Louisiana and Mississippi to help the American Red Cross bring the living to safe, dry shelter. Click on the link to donate as little as $5 to the project or if you're in Atlanta shop at your neighborhood Publix and donate at the Careforce Centers or the checkout counter.


HurricaneKatrinaRelief: Truth Laid Bear

This week I am participating in a Hurricane Katrina Relief Blog-campaign with Truth Laid Bear. You can click on my Hurricane Katrina blog and participate also.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

When Life is too Real to escape in Fiction

An excerpt from Whitney Houston & the Georgia Mass Choir's Help is On the Way...

When you're down and in despair
Don't be uneasy because he'll be there
Don't you worry, no don't you fret
The Lord has never, never failed you yet
So hold on, help is on the way

One of my oldest and dearest friends sent me an email. Her name is Katrina. And I laughed when I got it. Not because she doesn't write or call often, but because it was pouring rain outside. Hurricane Katrina's remnants were washing Selah's hopscotch chalk off the front walk, pulling baby turtles through the grass and allowing the rainwater to get a little too high for comfort outside my front door. When my satellite couldn't find a signal, CNN, ABC, Fox kept tuning out my favorite shows for more coverage of what I was already experiencing. Sometimes...we need an escape. And yesterday, I really wanted to watch Oprah. I really wanted to write more than 1000 words on my novel, work on this conversion scene contest submission. But I was praying.

For real.

My grandmother, who lives in Swamp(Lake Park,) Georgia called telling me that my cousins wanted her to come with them until the storms died down. These cousins live in double-wide trailers. Grandma's house is made of bricks and built on bricks( a swamp creek outlines the backyard.) A doublewide is built on something less tornado repellant than that. I don't think so. I told her. But I had to tell her again, to stay inside. She wasn't scared, but lonely. And that made me very sad. You don't want to think of your grandmothers as lonely.

I wasn't lonely, but scared. If she didn't smoke, I'd bring her back up here. But the house is filled with four generations of women as is. And tonight I had to lay down a few house rules with my teenaged sister, who thinks she doesn't have to do what I say, since our mom is here. Oh. No. So I told her to hit the bricks. And all Katrina broke lose. Now I wished I would have drove home to keep Grandma Minnie company. We share the same rules.

Why am I telling you this?

Well...sometimes my life is a little more dramatic than the stories I create. Today is one of them. When you wake up to see someone mourning for his wife, a governor in tears, an eight-month-old boy with debris scratches scarring his face, people wading through muddy water, it takes the escapist out of me.

But invites the praise song in. Today the song has been Whitney Houston with the Georgia Mass Choir's Hold on Help is on the Way. Shoot. I might watch the Preacher's Wife tonight. For those of you in the storm, out of the storm, facing a storm, let this song rock you to sleep tonight. Let's pray for those lost and the love one's who are lost without them.

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

Please note: This photo is courtesy ofAP Photo/Gary Coronado.
Marshall Martin, on roof, passes 3-month-old Christoper Collins to New Orleans Fire and Rescue officer Jonathan Pajeaud while the child's grandmother, Sheila Martin, waits on a water craft during evacuations in the 7th Ward of New Orleans.

Michelle Malkin has a great site that houses information on assisting the Hurricane Relief and Survivor Efforts.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Is Christian Fiction Valid?

Tyrone Beason of the Seattle Sun Times wrote an article about the growing trend in contemporary christian fiction. I've read many articles similiar to this, but there was one quote in here that struck me.

"It's taken a long time for even the Christian booksellers to accept that fiction is valid," said Bethany House author, Bette Nordberg. "Even the notion of reading for pleasure is a new idea. That's an iffy concept" among some in the Christian community."

I've read other blogs discussing this notion of the arts relevance in christian life. I want to know what you think? Is reading make believe illuminating?


August Wilson Writes On

According to Wendell Brock of theAugust Wilson, one of the great playwrights of our time and the author of an unprecedented 10-play cycle about African-American life in the 20th century, is suffering from inoperable liver cancer and says he has just months to live."

His Pulitzer Prize winning play, Piano Lessons sparked conversations about African American theology-a homage to West African divination coupled with Christianity. Wilson's life goal was to create ten plays set in ten decades of the twentieth century. He has accomplished that goal with his final play, "Radio Golf," opening this month at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. All ten plays will be read in ten days February 7 at New York's Signature Theatre.

I pray for Wilson's health and life. And am thankful that he has accomplished his goals.


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Parable Mag Seek Contemp Short Fiction

Parable Magazine is seeking contemporary short fiction for its Septemner/October issue. Click on title to take you to Parables Mag Writing Guidelines.


Relevant Magazine Poetry Submissions Call

Dear Writers and Friends,

It has been a big week here at the Poetry Section. I have received several poems from readers and writers of amazing talent.

As I organize the Poetry Section to be as effective as possible, I would like to make an official call for submissions:

Please send me work dealing with transition. It's a big theme, I know, but I am confident that you are up to the task.

It's the end of August as I write this, and the crickets are singing their finales for the summer. School has already begun here in Texas, and autumn is waiting in the wings. Seasonally, everything is changing.

Tell me your stories of change, whatever they may look like. Such poetry is appropriate right now.

Also, please send me any ideas about what you would like to see when you visit this section. I am open to suggestions.

Write on.


Click on title to direct you to Relevant Magazine.


Friday, August 26, 2005

The Heart of a Writer

I had many personal errands to take care of this morning. And I haven't written anything from my novel or my short story entry, yet. So I'm going to post the best thing I've read today online. And I urge you to go there and read it, too. J. Mark Bertrand writes a candid piece for The Master Artist about writing with heart.
This weekend I have to review a book for Romantic Times, and write two reviews for this blog. And I have to say one of the biggest drawbacks for me in all fiction this year is that some writers haven't pulled me in. I can't root for their characters, because I don't know their heart. You know?

AND--I believe that Christian Fiction could be the genre to beat, because its purpose is to speak on the heart of our hearts--GOD. And...yes...we have read christian fiction novels that are pew propaganda, syrupy sermons, and elitist escapism. We all have read that. But we have also read many toe tingling, sould stirring stories and what a great joy they are when we read them. And from what I'm hearing from Christian authors, and what I'm reading in unpublished manuscripts that a new day is on the horizon in Christian Fiction and I'm excited.

Yesterday, I received a great letter from Olympia Vernon. And in her letter she wrote:

After writing A Killing in This Town, I discovered Claude Neal, a black man who had been murdered... I did not know the full story until I had written the novel; this is when the tears came down, for when I write a novel, I go strictly on the energy I receive from God, and then, I find out what that energy was used for.

Then she sent me a first chapter of this novel-A Killing in This Town. And Lord, have mercy...HEART...poured all out on that page.

Book Description
From an award-winning and critically acclaimed writer comes a searing novel about a small Mississippi town trapped in a cycle of racism and violence, and the two boys who heroically defy tradition and seek an end to the injustice. Olympia Vernon's third novel, A Killing in This Town, is a taut, poetic masterpiece that exhumes a horrific epoch from the annals of the American South. There is a menace in the woods of Bullock County, Mississippi, and not only for the black man destined to be lynched when a white boy comes of age. The white men who work at the Pauer Plant are in danger, too, but they refuse to heed pastor Earl Thomas’s urgent message that the factory is slowly killing them. It is only when Gill Mender — a man haunted by past sins — returns to town that change seems possible. A transfixing and pivotal work of fiction, A Killing in This Town exposes the fragile hierarchy of a society poisoned by hatred, and shows the power of an individual to stand up to the demons of history and bring the cycle of violence to an end.

If you want a copy of the first chapter(she has okayed me to do it,) I will send it to you, just email me. And if this novel compels to you to join in Claude's struggle, then buy the book.

If you are writing today, or like J.Mark following the yellow brick road to find a heart, or like me trying to control my crazy heart, let's keep each other encouraged. Let's support the Body.

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Short Story Prize & Regretting UK life

When Selah was born I had an opportunity to move to the UK to take some postgraduate courses at Sotheby's Institute of Art in London, while Selah's father attended culinary school. But I became sick after her delivery and never recovered. A dream deferred. A residency not taken. And for the past five years I've been too caught up with rehabilitation, divorce, moving back to Atlanta and Kindergarten to think about it. In fact, my disability brought me back to reading and reporting again. It brought me back to my first love-Christ. And a handsome frenchman that adores my daughter.:)

Well, today I got kicked in the ribs when I read in the Scotsman that yesterday the Edinburgh International Book Festival launched the world's largest award for a short story .

The winner of the National Short Story Prize will receive a windfall of £15,000 with the runner-up pocketing £3,000. In what organisers hope will one day grow to the size and prominence of the Booker Prize, the competition aims to honour the country's finest writers of short stories so is only open to authors with a previous record of publication who are either UK nationals or residents.

See what I mean?

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

Deborah Raney's Prayer Gift for Writers

Deborah Raney,author of A Nest of Sparrows and Over the Waters, kindly gives us her personal writer's prayer to use, to accomplish our godly duties as christian writers.

"This prayer is personalized... I hope it might express the fears and desires of other writers who log on to Charis Connection today. As you adapt it for your own situation, I trust God will meet you with the same comfort and peace He gave me that morning. Without him directing our fingers on the keyboard, we are nothing more than noisy gongs and clanging cymbals."

Deborah Raney's Writer's Prayer written July 29, 2002

Father God, quiet my heart and clear my mind this morning, and help me focus on this story You’ve given me to write. Keep me from anything that would distract from the work I need to accomplish, but also let Your Spirit within me discern what is truly a needless distraction and what is important enough that it should distract me. In my striving, never let me put project above people or worldly gain above things that are eternal.

As I write, guard me from my tendency to laziness, Lord. Nudge me to dig as deep as necessary in researching my story; remind me to use all the tools at my disposal so that I handle the language in a correct, yet creative way. At the same time, don’t let me focus so harshly on one “tree” that I never make it through the “forest.”

Lord, I know that as I write this book––a book that won’t be published for many months––even now, You are preparing hearts that will one day read my words. So let every word I write accurately reflect Your truth and Your precepts. Supernaturally imbue my writing with that quality that, by Your Spirit, will woo souls to You. In Jesus’ precious name, amen

Amen, Deborah. Thanks for today's gift. And thanks Charis Connection for what you are doing.

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Louis Gosset, Jr. is the President

According to my buddy, Chris Well at CCM Magazine...

Last week, we linked you to the USA TODAY story "'Left Behind' gets 'Passion' treatment," which mentioned the unusual release strategy for the upcoming DVD Left Behind: World at War. Well, yesterday afternoon, actor Kirk Cameron visited the CCM offices to further explain this new strategy. Before the DVD hits stores Oct. 25, the film will be shown Oct. 21-23 on screens all over the country. Here's where it gets interesting: Instead of a traditional opening weekend in movie theaters, Left Behind: World at War will open on at least as many screens as the biggest Hollywood films, but in churches, universities, high schools -- everywhere there are projection systems and Christians with a passion for outreach.

For more information about how your church or group can sign up as a host for the event, click on the title to be directed to Chris's Sightings Blog.I'm not a fan of Left Behind, but a huge fan of Louis Gosset, Jr. So I have to see this. ANd I guess I have to reread Tribulation Force by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins again.

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

An Epic Book for the Fall

Excerpt from Hunger’s Brides...

“From the moment I was first illuminated by the light of reason, my inclination toward letters has been so vehement that not even the admonitions of others . . . nor my own meditations have been sufficient to cause me to forswear this natural impulse that God placed in me . . . that inclination exploded in me like gunpowder. . .”
—Sor Juana, in a letter of self-defence written to a bishop in 1691, just before she took a vow of silence

This novel is 1,360 pages long. But it's not all narrative fiction. It also contains poetry, dramatic plays, letters and margin notes. Random House states that Hunger's Bride draws "on chronicles of the conquest and histories of the Inquisition, myth cycles and archeological studies, ancient poetry and early Spanish accounts of blood sacrifice, Hunger’s Brides is a mammoth work of inspired historical fiction framed in a contemporary mystery... Hunger’s Brides is also a dramatic unveiling of three intimate journeys: a man’s forced march to self-knowledge, a great poet’s withdrawal from the world, and a profane mystic’s pilgrimage into modern Mexico, where the present is all-too-visibly built on the ruins of the vanquished."

The story's premise revolves around a grad student and a professor's quest to solve the mystery of Sor Juana. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was the 17th-century Mexican poet and nun who signed her vow of silence in her own blood.

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

World Standard for Faith Literature

Best-selling Charisma House author Stephen Mansfield, who recently wrote The Faith of the American Soldier and the New York Times best-seller, The Faith of George W. Bush, wrote about his perception of this year's CBA Conference on his blog.
Join me in working and praying for a day in which the literature of the faith again sets the world standard for depth, relevance, and beauty.

Know this. I am not a Stephen Mansfield fan. Nor am I a George W. Bush fan. But I am a fan of what Stephen said about praying for a world standard in literature.

This past weekend I read The Best American Nonrequired Reading. I read them every year along with American Best Shorts and the O Henry's. And I pray for the day I can write in a way that is filled with spiritual depth, timeliness, revelance and beauty. I pray for that. And I pray until then that I read such works that inspire God and me. What say you?

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

Waterbrook Bestseller set to become Movie

From Christian Retailing...

Kelly's Filmworks and City on a Hill Productions, both based in Louisville, Ky., have announced the introduction of their first independent feature film, The Perfect Stranger. The original screenplay is based on the novel Dinner With a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory (Waterbrook Press, a division of Random House), now ranked at No. 26 on the Hardcover Fiction list of The New York Times.

Directed by Shane Sooter and Jefferson Moore, the film tells the story of a troubled attorney (New York City stage actress Pamela Brumley) who receives a dinner invitation from a mysterious man who claims that he is Jesus of Nazareth (Jefferson Moore).

With a budget of less than $1 million, The Perfect Stranger is the first joint project of Kelly's Filmworks and City on a Hill Productions, both of which have previously dealt with short-format material. Test screenings held in mid-April/early May produced overwhelmingly positive responses from audiences composed of people who hold diverse religious beliefs.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Amazon Short Stories

Amazon Shorts features previously unpublished short-form literature for sale exclusively at Fiction and nonfiction pieces on a wide variety of topics are available in a digital format only for just $0.49. This is a great way for authors to maintain a more direct and frequent communication with their readers as well as promote their backlist.

Click on title to learn more about this new opportunity.

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

Gasperau Press

Deborah Gyapong at The Master Artist referred me to a Canadian small press that is living my dream to own my own small press some day. Click on the title to learn more about them. They print their own books in house. They build lasting relationships with their authors and they love crafting books. (Claudia, you have to check this out when you have time.)

Here is a press run by a couple of Christians in a similar vein, though up in Canada.

They published a book of poetry by George Elliott Clarke, who is my favorite Canadian poet. He also happens to be a black Nova Scotian, who can trace his roots back to the Loyalists. You would love his poetry.

Charis Connection: JC:Writing notes

Christian author, Jack Cavanaugh share some of his writing notes with other fiction writers at Charis Connection:

“The more the words, the less the meaning.” God, Ecclesiastes 6:11

Do you realize how hard it is for a Baptist preacher to admit that brevity is good? But according to God, good writing means eliminating all unnecessary words, so it must be true"

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Precious Times at Barnes & Noble

One of the magazines I contribute articles to made the Christian Post. Yeah!

Precious Times' Magazine Now Available at Barnes & Noble
Saturday, Aug. 20, 2005 Posted: 11:30:20AM EST

A magazine designed for “contemporary Black Christian Women,” is now available in select stores of Barnes & Noble, the retail bookstore chain announced on Monday.

Click on the title to read more.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Dear Christian fiction friends,
Many of you are on the path to becoming published authors (if you aren't already) and others of you are contemplating. I hope this helps bring your gift to the world. Go for it. Or, share the opportunity and tell someone else to go for it. <smile>
On the Christian book promotion trail,
Marina Woods
Bethany House Publishers / Ripe Harvest Foundation
Ain't No Valley Essay Contest Underway
Baltimore MD, July 20, 2005 - The Ripe Harvest Foundation and Bethany House Publishers announce the Ain't No Valley/Get Lifted Essay Contest. Contestants should read the newly published novel, Ain't No Valley, by award-winning author Sharon Ewell Foster, released by Bethany House August 1, 2005. (To purchase Ain't No Valley, [Good Girl Book Club Billboard].)
Ain't No Valley is a funky, soulful, and inspiring novel about new beginnings and learning to rise above adversity to glean the best of life. Sprinkled with Foster's signature style of humor and wisdom, this stand-alone contemporary novel will appeal across age, gender, and cultural distinctives. 
To celebrate Ain't No Valley's release, The Ripe Harvest and Bethany House will award four $1,000 scholarships and one $1,500 award. Scholarships will be awarded in two age groups, 16-21 years and over 21 years of age.  The Chicago author, who Bishop T.D. Jakes has nicknamed Picasso of the Pen, says it's her way of giving back. Ain't No Valley is her sixth novel.
Entrants should submit an essay (maximum 1,000 words) after reading Ain't No Valley.  Essays must answer the following question: 
Describe the character you most identified with and how that character sought and found a new beginning in life.
Now, describe your personal situation and the plan you have for a new beginning.
Essays should be typed, double-spaced, and should include the entrant's address, telephone number, email address, name and age. Completed essays must be postmarked by midnight January 7, 2006 and mailed to:
Ripe Harvest Foundation, Inc.
Ain't No Valley/Get Lifted
PO Box 10402
Baltimore, MD  21209
Winners will be announced in March 2006.
For additional information about the contest and the book, please visit or phone the Ripe Harvest Foundation at 410-542-5144.
Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group, has been publishing high quality books for nearly 50 years. Recognized as the pioneer and leader in Christian fiction, Bethany House publishes nearly 120 titles each year and Bethany House titles are often found on the Christian bestseller lists.
The Ripe Harvest Foundation is an African-American arts and letters organization devoted to providing access to and developing an appreciation for the literary, visual and performing arts. The Ripe Harvest Foundation emphasizes strong reading and artistic skill proficiencies essential for learning, goal setting, and achievement.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Submission Call: Christian Prayers & Poems

June Cotner, editor of the beststelling Graces, Bedside & Prayers, and 16 other anthologies, seeks short Christian prayers and spiritual poems for the following hardcover anthologies: Miracles of Motherhood and To Have and To Hold(for newlyweds.) Reprints OK.
Click on title to direct you to Cotner's site. For more details send SASE to:
June Cotner
PO Box 2765
Poulsbo, WA 98370

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Southeastern Literary Magazine and Small Press Festival

I am excited today. God is too good to me. I was a littl bummed that I won't be attending the ACFW Conference in Tennessee in September. Well, my alma mater, Agnes Scott College, along with the Chattahoochee Review-one of my fav. lit. reviews and my only short story contest rejection for 2004(imagine the pain)--are hosting a literary magazine conference for Free!!! Free. And Lord, have mercy. This conference is what I needed. See. I have this little reader series. And I was taking a hiatus in September and hosting a bowling party(thanks Jillian's for donating the food, the bowling lanes, and shoe rentals,) to decide my next step with thirdthursdays. Should I move it to Friday for the winter, create an audio lit journal(an example), pod cast, compilation CD like my friends at IBC Designs-Thanks for the free cds for thirdthursdays(an example), make a little pocket change or what? And this conference will help me answer some of those questions.

Here are the details:

Southeastern Literary Magazine and Small Press Festival
The Chattahoochee Review presents the third annual Southeastern Literary Magazine and Small Press Festival to be held September 23 to September 24 at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta. The festival features editors panels, speakers, readings, workshops in poetry and fiction, and the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses LitMag Fair. Among the participating editors are Helene Atwan (Beacon Press), Rick Campbell (Anhinga Press), Jim Clark (Greensboro Review), Marc Fitten (Chattahoochee Review), Casey Hill (, T.R. Hummer (Georgia Review), Martin Lammon (Arts & Letters), Richard Mathews (Tampa Review), and Shannon Ravenel (Shannon Ravenel Books/Algonquin). Agent Nat Sobel is a special guest speaker. All events are free and open to the public. Registration is required for the workshops. Send an SASE, call, e-mail, or visit the Web site for more information.
Southeastern Literary Magazine and Small Press Festival, Chattahoochee Review, Georgia Perimeter College, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA 30338. (770) 551-3019. Marc Fitten, Editor.

Davidae "Dee" Stewart: Georgia Mourns Fallen Soldiers in Silent Tribute Today

Davidae "Dee" Stewart: Georgia Mourns Fallen Soldiers in Silent Tribute Today: "Flags will be lowered to half-staff and Georgians will be asked to pay silent tribute for two minutes Thursday at 1 p.m. to honor the memory of the state's war dead.

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue will lead an hour-long public prayer vigil at the state Capitol Thursday. The governor has also ordered all state flags be flown at half-staff in tribute to those Georgians who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Jacqueline Thomas Writer's Achievement Award

Christian fiction author, Vanessa Davis Griggs passed this news onto me. And I'm passing it onto you.

Save the Date: On March 31, 2006, the North Carolina Black Book Festival will present the Writer's Achievement Award to Jacquelin Thomas during the Opening Night' literary gala.
Jacquelin Thomas is an award winning, best selling author with eighteen titles in print including, The Prodigal Husband, Soul Journey and her recent celebrated novel, Saved in the City. Other credits include contributions to the Women of Color Devotional Bible and Brides Noir magazine. Jacquelin Thomas will be the first novelist to be awarded with the Writer's Achievement Award.

Other Events: Saturday, April 1, 2006 Workshops and Panels (Free to the public)

Invited Authors that will be in Attendance: Stacy Hawkins Adams,Kendra Norman-Bellamy,Ryan Phillips,Vanessa Davis Griggs,Linda Dominique Grosvenor,Tia McCollors,Linda Hudson-Smith to name a few.

This gala is a ticketed event. For more information, visit Here.

August Celebration of Christian Fiction

...under the imaginary table that separates me from my readers, don't we secretly clasp each other's hands?
-Bruno Schultz

This quote carries the theme of this month's Celebration of Christian Fiction. Every month we, christian writer's take a topic and discuss it on our blogs. I have a post on there as well. It would be a blessing to me, if you stopped by Katy Popa's site and read the many posts on this theme. It would be a greater blessing if you decide to participate next month, get on one accord, and help spread the Word to a few more e-places.

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Donald Miller's Through Painted Deserts

Through Painted Deserts
Author: Donald Miller
Publisher: Nelson Books
Date: 2005-08-01
Pages: 256
ISBN: 0785209824
Price: $13.00 (includes shipping)

Fueled by the belief that something better exists than the mundane life they've been living, free spirits Don and Paul set off on an adventure-filled road trip in search of deeper meaning, beauty, and an explanation for life. Many young men dream of such a trip, but few are brave enough to actually attempt it. Fewer still have the writing skills of Donald Miller, who records the trip with wide-eyed honesty in achingly beautiful prose. In this completely revised edition, he discusses everything from the nature of friendship, the reason for pain, and the origins of beauty.

As they travel from Texas to Oregon in Paul's cantankerous Volkswagen van, the two friends encounter a variety of fascinating people, witness the fullness of nature's splendor, and learn unexpected lessons about themselves, each other, and even God.

Haven't read the novel, yet. So I'm interested to hear from those who have read it. I read a road-trip fiction novel this summer, Free Bird. So I would like to hear how this differs.


Military Blogs, Bugs & Contests II

This week is a doozy for me. I have to complete the PTA Newsletter, write a book review for Focus on Fiction, a read a New Spirit galley, write 1200 words a day, cover Atlanta events for Rejoice, prepare for thirdthursdays, meet my writing group/prayer partners, and finalize my aunt's passing, all while dealing with the stomach flu and a cranky Selah. I've completed most everything. But the thing that has me on lock the most is trying to come up with a good story for faith*in*fiction's short story contest. At first I wasn't going to do it. I'm trying to rewrite a novel for Dave's sake. And my black voice is just too loud and too much for some folks. And I really wasn't in the mood to wash it down to appease others. God made me this way. Bless him. So sometimes I just don't participate in these things. Yet, after my aunt's funeral I decided bump it two tears in a bucket i'll give it a try. I've lost you haven't I?
Anyway, after I made this great decision I found a few distractions that I want to bring to your attention. Not because I want you to write a sucky story so that J. Mark Bertrand could win. But that may keep you motivated as you write.

I've been reading two military blogs-one from an Agnes Scott College student(my alma mater)serving on the 48th Brigade Combat Team and one from Mustang 09 a National Guard Soldier. Three soldiers from the 48th died on Monday, so I'm sitting here waiting from news from Spc. Schreck instead of writing. But these blogs tell you so much of what is going on in Iraq through the soldier's eyes. We're always talking about realism in our writing. Why don't we go to some sources that may give us a real view of things. This picture was taken from Mustang 09. It is a sandstorm--Shamal. Wow!

Mustang 09 writes his experience with this storm:
Breathing is painful, as each inhalation is accompanied by what seems to be a pound of desert sand. You can’t see unless you are wearing glasses or goggles, because no matter what direction you move, the sand buries itself in your eyes. Clothes, skin, hands and teeth are immediately coated with a gritty dry film. But duty is duty, so we trudged off towards the gate.

There is a hard and heroic beauty in that description I could have never imagined to write myself. And I'm thankful for the job they are doing. I have five cousins and a host of friends over there. We all do.

The other thing is the Zotob virus. I spoke about that on a previous post. But there is another worm--WORM-RBOT.CBQ. Go to If you use Mozilla Firefox like me you have to use Internet Explorer to scan your pc for this virus.

Ok. Now. Let's write something.


Zotob Worm

A widespread worm has knocked computers with Windows 2000 at CNN, New York Times and other news channels so if you have a Windows 2000 system shut it down. You may have the Zotob virus.

Skye's first day at Kindergarten

Things have been so topsy turvy that I forgot to report on my sweet cheek's first day of school. Well...Selah Skye Stewart jumped out the truck, didn't wave at me, say goodbye or give me a kissy kiss. My child ran off into that big school without the car pool attendants help. Yikes! I was concerned for nothing. Then when I drive up the carpool lane to pick her up she's dragging this poor teacher to Blue Thunder--our SUV--and I can hear her high pitched voice telling the wide eyed woman.
"This is my car, right here."
I asked her how school went.
She says. "Cool beans."
Aargh!! She sounds like me.
Needless to say Skye(Selah's middle name and the name I call her by) was ready for Kindergarten. Thanks for the prayers. It worked. :)

Monday, August 15, 2005

TLHines needs BookCover Design Input

TL Hines of Chocolatey Goodness Blog has a debut book deal with Bethany House. On his site he saught advice from his fans and friends on a title for the new novel-Waking Lazarus. Now he needs help on the book cover design.

If your dream is to become published, please drop by his site. He gives his road to published story. He's very open and nice. He's even promoting other authors through the christian fiction blog syndicate. Go help, the brother for me.

But before you go over there. What type of bookcovers do you like?

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

Traci Dupree and Review Copies

Traci Depree talks on her Writing Life blog about whether or not review copies are worth sending out to reviewers.
"Here's a recent question posed to me:

In the big picture, how important are review copies. With 150,000 (or whatever the latest number is) new books hitting the market each year, how many actually get reviewed? Of those reviews, how many result in sales?"
-Traci Dupree

Click on the title to direct you to her blog and please add comments for her. My comment is on there and here it is:
"Good entry. My godfather owns a christian bookstore in south georgia. He says that most of his customers come to him and ask him what do you have that is Good? They know he is devoted to God's will and he wouldn't stock or recommend anything that isn't inspired. After growing up in that store and then later becoming a reviewer here in Atlanta. I believe that my goal isn't just to point out if a book is literary sound, but God Sound. Christian Fiction reviews--if this world was mine--must be about the message and whether or not the book satiates someone seeking spiritual guidance or God."


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Waterbrook makes New York Times Bestseller's list.

Via Christian Retailing
Dinner With a Perfect Stranger(excerpt) by first-time novelist David Gregory has made it to The New York Times best-seller list, making it WaterBrook Press' first title to be named to the newspaper's list. The book will be included as No. 30 on the expanded Hardcover Fiction list on the newspaper's Web site on Sunday and Aug. 21.

Sunday's list is based on sales ending the week of July 30; the book released July 12.

A novella set almost entirely in a modern-day Italian restaurant, Dinner With a Perfect Stranger is about a skeptical young professional's conversation with Jesus about Christianity.

The book also has gained mainstream national media attention in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, NPR's Day to Day, and Billy Graham's Decision magazine.

WaterBrook, launched in 1996, is an imprint of Random House.

A pretty balanced review of the book can be found at Collect Miscellany.

And catch this--Mr. Gregory sent this manuscript to Waterbrook unsolicited. Yikes!!

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

Friday, August 12, 2005

Two Dees & the Tobacco Bride

The weekend is upon us. I know we have been writing:) To keep you motivated through the weekend I am posting an interview I had with Deanne Gist. Her book, A Bride Most Begrudging and this week's christian fiction's focus, currently ranks #15 of the, #1 on the Christian Book Distributors fiction list, and a third printing in just six short weeks. If you have goals to become a best selling published author, stop by her site and read her road to getting published. And check out that cute book trailer.

Is it true that 1/3rd of the tobacco brides survived? If so, why?

The death rate for Jamestown in its early years was catastrophic. The high mortality rate was caused by malnutrition, poor sanitary conditions, clashes with the Native Americans, and various diseases (one of which was malaria).

Why is this story timely for today? what issues still apply to us now?

I think many of us are afraid of something. We are afraid of failure, of success, of loving, of being alone, of death, of what people think. All kinds of things. In Bride, my character had allowed his fear to rule his life.
What I hope the novel illustrates is that you can overcome fear. And the only way to overcome fear is to release it to the Lord--knowing when you release it, that if He chooses to allow your worst nightmare to come true that He’ll be with you and you can be devastated, but you won’t be defeated.

Why did you add the dialogue regarding Adam Lucas an indentured servants?

The research I do for my novels reveals so much about the place and time period I am studying. I try to weave in as much of the research as I can without bogging down the story. I thought it noteworthy that pre-slavery Virginia had black indentured servants who became lucrative farmers and land owners after their servitude had come to completion. They were well liked and well respected in the community. It was something I didn’t think was common knowledge, so I wanted to be sure and include it somewhere in my novel.

Why did you choose 17th century Virginia as a setting?

I am always on the prowl for interesting little tidbits that occurred in our country’s history. I discovered that the Virginia colonists refused to stay in America unless the Crown sent them some women. The Crown’s solution was to empty the female felons out of their prisons and sell them for their weight in tobacco leafage as brides. From there, my research revealed an instance where a woman was actually kidnapped, transported and sold against her will. I decided to fictionalize what happened to her.

I like the humor elements in the novel. What is the funniest thing you
encountered while writing this book?

One of the places I visited while doing research was Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. There was a woman in period costume standing in a chicken coop giving a lecture on poultry. It really ticked the rooster off and he tried to flog her in the middle of her speech. Without missing a beat, the woman swiped the rooster up by the feet and held him upsidedown for the rest of her presentation. Ha! I still get a chuckle out of it when I think about it.

After you wrote BMB did you find yourself speaking in period dialogue in
every day talk?

No, thank goodness! But I did find myself wanting to let the characters of my next novel speak with that same speech pattern, even though they were from the mid-1800s. After a while, I did manage to adjust to a new time period, though.

I don't know why Constance reminds me of Nicole Kidman, but do you picture your characters as current movie stars?

I’ve heard of authors who do model their characters after movie stars. I, to date, have not done so. In Bride, my characters came from pictures of some random persons I found in magazines. For my next novel, I went to a modeling agency and looked through their files until I found someone who had just the right look. Then I asked for their composite card and tacked it up on my bulletin board. That way, I had something solid to go on when doing my descriptions.

Thanks Dee for chatting. :)

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,
The other Dee

Thursday, August 11, 2005

New Blog for Christian Fiction Enthusiasts by Christian Fiction Published Authors

From all of us at the Charis Connection
If you're reading this blog, you probably have an interest in Christian fiction. You may enjoy reading it, you may be writing, editing, or publishing it, or you may be taking your first steps toward learning how to create your own short stories or novels. Whatever your reasons, here's what we're about: we're a group of novelists who publish what has been called "Christian fiction," "faith-based fiction," or "fiction with a Christian worldview." Our contributing authors have a few things in common--collectively, we've published numerous novels for Christian publishers. We have a genuine passion for the art of the story. We are dedicated to continually improving our craft as we strive for excellence in every book. We believe the art of story to be a legitimate, viable means of attracting others to a loving God and Savior, who frequently used story to communicate deep truths. We believe in what we're doing and have made a commitment of our time, effort, and faith to constantly deepen the quality and broaden the outreach of fiction written from the perspective of a believer in Christ. Our ultimate purpose is to glorify the One who gave us the gift of creativity. Whatever brought you here, we hope you receive a blessing from your visit.

Guerilla Book Promotion: Ain't No Valley

To celebrate Ain't No Valley's release, The Ripe Harvest and Bethany House will award four $1,000 scholarships and one $1,500 award. Scholarships will be awarded in two age groups, 16-21 years and over 21 years of age.

Entrants should submit an essay (maximum 1,000 words) after reading Ain't No Valley. Essays must answer the following question:

Describe the character you most identified with and how that character sought and found a new beginning in life. Now, describe your personal situation and the plan you have for a new beginning.

Essays should be typed, double-spaced, and should include the entrant's address, telephone number, email address, name and age. Completed essays must be postmarked by midnight January 7, 2006 and mailed to:

Ripe Harvest Foundation, Inc.
Ain't No Valley/Get Lifted
PO Box 10402
Baltimore, MD 21209

Winners will be announced in March 2006.

For additional information about the contest and the book, see here or phone the Ripe Harvest Foundation at 410-542-5144.

Writing Out Loud

"Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God"
-Bible verse for thought: Romans 10:17

Last year I took a year long writing workshop with Chuck Palahniuk. Chucky gave us a monthly lesson on his writing technique and a homework assignment. My writing cronies and I critiqued each others work. And at the end of the workshop we wrote to Chucky about our experiences and our goals for this year. Chucky wrote me back and sent Selah and I gifts. My writing grew this year, because of that workshop and Chuck's motivating gift box. I have met most of my goals and at this moment every query I've sent I received an acceptance for submission. But that good record will change, since the fall is my designated short story submission time. (The spring was creative nonfiction, magazines and critical reviews for lit journals.) So of course, I am still a member of the workshop. My creative writing is not as strong.

This summer I hosted a summer reading series. Next thursday is the finale and then I will take all my surveys and reports from the participants and decide if cranking this thing up in the winter is a good move. But during this series I presented a short story that I submitted to an online magazine. I haven't received a rejection from it yet, because I just sent it off. However--with hindsight, I think that the story wasn't right for that e-zine. We'll see. Anyway...

In Chuck's workshop we did a two month study on Reading out Loud/Writing Out Loud. In this discussion Chuck disclosed that he uses book readings as opportunities to get feedback from his audience. Does the rhythm of the piece make sense to them? Do they catch the jokes, the timing? Because reading your story out loud gives you the chance to see how people react to the story, so that you can go back and add beats or change pacing. Since I knew that my writing was different from what I read in the e-zine(an ezine that wants different creative stories)--my work is humorous meets strange, not so cookie knew I needed to try it out on my audience.

Therefore, at each thirdthursday session I read my story "Straddling the Fence" for the group. I received fifty responses about it, and a nice critique from Chris Wells. All good. Thank you, guys. But I also got to see where I needed to change my phrasing or pull the joke back, or expand upon the seriousness of the theme. And I don't know if they will take it or not. But what I do know is that I have seen people moved by it already. I've heard people laugh right where I wanted them to laugh. I wanted them to get quiet right when I wanted them to and I wanted them to internalize what happened and say Oh! I got that. Hallelujah. And that has happened. So If they don't accept this story, then I'm fine. I'll post it on my online writing portfolio for anyone to read. (I need some new content there anyway.)

This month I'm trying to write a short story for a contest, so I will read what I come up with next Thursday at thirdthursdays and then I will read it at my writing group meeting that Saturday and I will read it again at my Bible Study supper club until its edifying.

So what does this mean, Dee?

When I talk amongst my writing friends we talk about will CBA take this? Will ABA take that? Is it too Black? Is it not Black enough? Who will hear my words outside of the Holy Spirit? And I say from my experience so far--is-- to write and then write it out loud. Faith comes through hearing. If write we our stories and present to them to our community, our church, our children, then we are working in the Body. And that is the most important thing. And--this is the kicker--if we keep writing out Loud, eventually someone will want to help us get our stories past our neighborhoods. Because then we are acting on our Faith. We are speaking to this world what is...
As Christ did when he said, "Peace Be Still."
We have to get out here and speak. Speak like a child speaks.

But there is also some prep work we need to do before we read our stories. ...the Word of God brings Hearing. What kind of hearing? Holy Hearing. We want to hear from God more than any other audience member. So we need do a little prep work. We have go to God and ask for repentance. Repentance for putting too much pressure on this divine work. For not putting him first in the making of the work. In our lives. We have to cleanse ourselves before we speak The Word. We have to prepare ourselves for constructive feedback from God, which will come from our audience. We have to prepare ourselves for when someone doesn't laugh, when someone doesn't say Hallelujah, sister as we read our story. We have to humble ourselves and then, believe--Faith--that what they reveal to us about our stories are from the Lord. We have to prepare ourselves so that we can discern through the Spirit those who will not be there to edify Him. This prep work is tough. But if we are christian fiction writers, then our approach must be christian. It can't be like a def poet stepping a cool swagger to the mic. We have to be humbling like Christ, ready to love.

This month's Celebration of New Christian Fiction Katy Popa gave us an interesting quote as a theme:
... under the imaginary table that separates me from my readers, don't we secretly clasp each other's hands? ~ Bruno Schulz
And that Schults snippet resonated with me. And I thought let me add that here, while I'm on this subject.

If we prepare to speak our works as Christ, and speak them out loud, and observe our audience as we speak, we should want them to grab our holy hands-so to speak-and get the thing that is at the heart of the story(in our case--GOD.) We want that. So we need to read out. Write out. What say you?

For this year's remainder, I encourage us all to at some point to read our stories to someone out loud. Get feedback from the people whom we are suppposed to be writing . Tap into your market, tap into your church and bless them with your spoken word. And believe that God gave you the right words to praise him through your stories, to connect him to others by it. We got it like that. You know?

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,
PS. I read my blogs outloud before I post.:)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Writing Woman, Writing Christian: Sex Slavery

An excerpt from my interview with Deanne Gist...
I discovered that the Virginia colonists refused to stay in America unless the Crown sent them some women. The Crown’s solution was to empty the female felons out of their prisons and sell them for their weight in tobacco leafage as brides. From there, my research revealed an instance where a woman was actually kidnapped, transported and sold against her will. I decided to fictionalize what happened to her.

Can you imagine--irregardless of whether you're a man or woman--being sold for a tobacco bushel? Do you think we sell ourselves for cheaper than that today?

When I read A Bride Most Begrudging I thought of the main character, Constance's frustration. Here she is this women of royal heritage being treated like a prostitute, a criminal or worse in a world where people don't share her beliefs. Yet, she knew who she was and would not allow that situation to change who she was inside her heart. I believe Constance mirrors what God sees in the church. What our Lord sees in us.

We are precious. We are queens. And here we sit in this world where none of that matters. How do we live in it and stay precious and stay queens of Heaven? How we do remind ourselves that we are Daughters of the King?

Last week I watched a 48 Hours Series on Sex Slavery in Latvia. And it reminded me of the situation in Haiti, whereby Haitian girls are raped as a form of political oppression. Biafran Women were raped in front of their husbands or forced to be raped by their sons. And think about thirteen-year-old girls in Atlanta, who are being pimped and prostituted. And no one fights for their honor. No one fights for the princesses. And I think about our Lord, who died on the cross for all of this , and I wonder what do we fight for now? Why is life this hard for so many?

Tayari Jones discusses a controversial memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen. She doesn't condone the woman's actions, but she thinks this book sheds a realistic, but horrible light on why we, women are selling ourselves for less than a tobacco leafage:
Read this book and let's think about what it means that there are circles where it is considered appropriate for a woman to be sent over like a gift basket...Forget whether or not you want to blame her, or blame the man, just think about what it means that there is so much traficking in women's bodies. Think about it when you watch a [music]video. Read this book and think about it all.
My daugter is in Kindergarten this year and we had a time finding suitable school clothes, because many of the clothes at the mall were too seductive for a five-year-old to wear. To top that off, this summer our media told us news about two young girls a little older than my Selah who were murdered by one of the girl's father. Two other girls buried alive by strange men, who see them less than prostitutes, less than criminals. And I scream out to the Lord for my baby's safety. How will this new world treat my daughter? If she doesn't play the Jessica Rabbit Vamp? How will she be mistreated because I brought her as up a child of God?

A Bride Most Begrudging's ending gives me enough illumination to carry me through this year and appeases my fears until my change comes. I'm not going to give the ending away. You will have to witness God answering my prayers for yourself when you read the book. :)

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Love at First Fight: Constance & Drew

Deanne Gist's A Bride Most Begruding strikes my fancy. Let me tell ya. Her heroine Constance is trapped in the wrong place at the wrong time. But her life and all the people she touches is changed for the better. Good news to here for time such as these.

The remainder of the week I will discuss A Bride Most Begrudging, Deanne's battle to get Constance's story told, and why I think this historical romance manifests God's romance with us.

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

Tolkien in the Spirit

Research reveals spiritual journey of Tolkien fans
Donald MacLeod of Guardian
Saturday August 6, 2005

Prof Martin Barker, of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth said: "And we found that the highest levels of enjoyment and importance came from those who saw watching it[Lord of the Rings III] as going on a spiritual journey. It was not just 'entertainment', but a source of inspiration."

If you've watched the trilogy, would you agree? I'm going to watch it all over again this weekend.

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,
Dee(check my wip progress)

Christian Internatinal Detective Mysteries Sought?

Interesting discussion on International mysteries.
Scott Wallace of Christian Science Monitor asks, "Why the interest in worldly detectives? Some observers say readers are tired of poor products by assembly-line American writers."

-An excerpt from [my Pan African Sleuth favorite]The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency...

I am not ashamed to be called an African patriot, said Mma Ramotswe. I love all the people whom God made, but I especially know how to love the people who live in this place. They are my people, my brothers and sisters. It is my duty to help them to solve the mysteries in their lives. That is what I am called to do.

Addressing Wallace's question there are American detective novels that have stepped out of the cookie-cutter mold as well. Glenville Lovell's caribbean american detective Blades Overstreet series sheds a new light on america, immigration history, and race. And its first book also has a character named Precious. :) Hi, Glenville.

Any christian mystery novelists writing outside the box out there?


Monday, August 08, 2005

Kindergarten Writing Diva Mom

This morning I jumped up, put on my Mommy MuMu and made my sweetie pie some sausage and waffles for her first day of school. She woke up around seven. Smiled. Beamed actually. I wanted to cry. Prayed over her. We ate and talked about how fun today would be. She would go to Kindergarten and be a big girl; And I would go to my computer and write 2000 words of novel. We both did what we were supposed to do. I feel like a superhero now--Kindergarten Writing Diva Mom and Selah, my trusty smiley faced sidekick.

ThirdThursdays Summer Series Finale

Hank Stewart. Kendra Norman-Bellamy. Christian Jazz. Traci Herron. Monica Bell. MeLana Jones. And You

When: August 18. Third Thursday of August. 7-9pm. Somethin's Brewin, Suwanee, Ga 20024.

How: Leave a comment to get on the guest list. Seating limited. Sold out in July.

From other Mouths Monday

I'm writing my WIP, critiquing writing partners works, preparing my Deanne Gist interview, book reviewing, and thinking about a short story for the Faith*in*Fiction contest. So this week and probably the month I will be posting my favorite e-quotes of the day. This is Monday...Michael Spencer of InternetMonk wrote:
It is simply very difficult for many Christians to relate God to art if the art does not depict God in ways they recognize: Bible stories, familiar images, moralisms. To how God's universe, and our moral landscape, in images that are honest or even disturbing will be a difficult vocation, but a Christian must do the work of not only creating, but of conceiving the presence of God, truth and revelation within that vocation. You are such a person. You have the tenacity, but you must begin at the beginning. Know how your calling and your faith coincide in your artistic vision.
-A Letter To Andrew and Other Young Artists Injured By The Church.

-Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Peter Jennings

Aug. 7 — ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings died today at his home in New York City. He was 67. On April 5, Jennings announced he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Click title for more details.

Sun and Shield: Sunspots 20

Martin Labar at Sun and Shield highlighted our blog this past Friday.

Anyone interested in Christian fiction, by and about African-Americans, should probably check Christian Fiction...

thanks for the plug, Mr. LaBar. From time to time we talk about more than african american christian fiction. Don't we? A little bit? :)


Friday, August 05, 2005

F * I * F's Conversion Short Story Contest

Fa i t h * I n * F i c t i o n 2005 Short Story Contest

Last year's Christmas contest (with InFuze partnering) was, I thought, successful. Fun and diverse entries... and I know at least one author nearing a book contract (not with BHP) whose work first got some notice there...So, I'd like us to write conversion stories. Simple as that.
- Dave Long at Faith*In*Fiction

Click on the title to learn the short story contest rules. Let me know if you enter.

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

Thursday, August 04, 2005

BookShopTalk: Crack CBA Code Part I

reprinted from Rejoice Atlanta News 2004.
by Davidae Stewart

Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Life, a book about finding the meaning of life through God, has sat on the New York Times bestseller’s list for a gazillion weeks, and currently ranks #2 as of August 2005. Most readers bought this book on-line at, from their church bookstore, or at superstores: Waldenbooks, Target, Family and Walmart. However, seventeen percent of those book buyers bought their book at neighborhood [mom and pop] bookstores.

According to CBA founder, Bill Anderson, “in the early 1980s, the average Christian retail store was a mom-and-pop outlet in a remote location…but, [today] many of them are struggling to survive.” As the demand for Christian books increase, the demand for secular companies to share its profits increases, thereby, challenging the future of mom and pop retail stores.

Pastor George Terrell, owner of Joy Unspeakable Bookstore in College Park and pastor of Crossroads Christian Church in Riverdale, states that many big chains “sell from the top ten percent of the market, which deeply discounts books”. Because of these stores ability to penetrate book sales, stores like Walmart penetrate the Christian publishing industry’s overall mission.” When secular hands are buying more publishers and distribution centers, then the mission of this industry begins to deteriorate. It becomes profit oriented instead of ministry be continued.

Question: If 19% of christian book buyers only seeing the top ten books in the industry(go to my CBA Top Twenty for August) then how will other novels get a fair share in the market. Particularly, how will christian fiction written by minorities get a fair chance in the market, especially since most white readers hold a prejudiced notion that our stories are not universal?

I'll talk to my writing buddy, Tia McCollors' this month about cracking the Essence Top Ten and aspiring to crack the CBA Code(wink, wink, Tia) And will post Part II of Pastor Terrell's bookstore ministry and his answer for struggling Mom& Pops.

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Oh, Boy! A Tribute

In honor of my aunt Elizabeth Stewart Keeley, who went home to Glory today.

Aunt Elizabeth "Dot" stood stout, big bosomed, wide grinned and winking down into you until she found your giggle box.
"Oh, boy!" She sang everytime something took her by surprise.
She sang those words to me often. "Oh, boy. Vida looks just like me. Oh, boy." And I would tumble tickled pink on her quilt covered settee, relishing in her voice. Relishing in being alive. Hoping I was her.
Aunt Dot made me beautiful even when she were not around.
In college when my weight picked up and I refused to take another dance class.
"Oh, boy!" She sang the day I graduated from Agnes Scott. "You're smarter and prettier than me now."
I believed her until today.

The moment after I told my mom she passed.
Mama said, "I'm on my way to you, Vida. Just hold on."
I'm still waiting on her to get here.

I believe in God like I need air.
I can't breathe. I need God.

"Lizabeth passed about fifteen minutes ago, Vida," Daddy said to me over the phone. "You're alright, baby?"
"Oh, boy!" Is all I could say, because my chest is tight. I'm humped over the telephone fading...

I can't breath;Yet I believe.
I believe that Aunt Dot hasn't left this place, yet. Because I here her singing in me. I want to hear her say it one more time. "Oh, boy!" Why can't she say it to me just one more time. I called. I called. I called...I can't breathe.

My heart tries to make me feel better.
Maybe she said it when she saw Glory. "Oh, boy."
Maybe she said it when her soul soared into everything. "Oh, boy."
Maybe she sees me typing about her now. "Oh, boy."
Maybe...I need to just exhale.

My brother, David, doesn't know yet. I've been asked to tell him. But he's at work supervising Tyson Chicken deaths in Vienna, Georgia. I left a message on his office phone. Didn't seem like an appropriate time or place to talk about that.

He says that the chicken don't die in pain. "They don't suffer." Is his exact words.

Elizabeth suffered.

"Oh, boy!"

I can't go home to Valdosta. I can't drive down there to not hear her say that. I can't do it. I know I won't be able to breathe. I can't see David and remember the quilted settee, sugar cane poles, Selah's christening gown.
Pray for me.

Wdct for today- O. But I will do my pages before the day is done. She wouldn't want me to lose momentum.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Way Off Topic: Ad Scandal?

For Your Irritainment

Jasan at farkyblog has made an interesting discovery. The Trojan Condom ad's theme song sounds very similar to Shaun Groves, "After the Music Fades." Check out his blog, listen to both songs and hear for yourself.



I attended a magnetic high school. The parental units wanted me to be exposed to, get to know and appreciate people of different cultures as well as have a rigorous and challenging education with diverse subject matters and opportunities that would prepare me for college.

One of my “could have” been favorite courses was English Lit. The reason I say, "could have" been is because most of the required readings at that time bored me to tears. I didn’t have as much appreciation for works by Emily Bronte' as I did for Bach in my music appreciation course. If only I could have read my Sweet Valley High paperback novels, things would have been a lot more exciting!

Then in college the same required course found me,only this time it was college English lit! Who knew I would have to read the same works again and write critical essays and term papers. In retrospect, I wish I would have expanded my horizons more in high school English Lit. Not just because it would have benefited me in college, but because I can see now how it benefits a person in the long run when we stretch ourselves, our interests and our imaginations--even though we think we may not like it.

As a Christian book promoter I really enjoy placing multicultural books and diverse writings. I think it brings an unforgettable experience to readers when they stretch themselves and read novels (and books) outside of that which they are accustomed to. Whether the reasons a reader may select a novel is based on bestsellers lists, brand, author, price point, story, theme and subject matter or frankly, because of the race or ethnicity of the author leads me to my next point.

On the July GOOD GIRL Pick was Redeeming Love by beloved author Francine Rivers. Redeeming Love may be considered a classic to some because it’s not a new release, and while the genre of the novel is historical, the message transcended everything including the age, race, gender and background of the author as well as the genre. Reader’s who normally would have disregarded Rivers work because it didn’t fit into their favorite genre or it wasn’t marketed to their “market” so to speak, would have missed out on an amazing and life changing story. E-mails continue to pour in from women of various cultures and ethnicities thanking us for turning them on to Redeeming Love and that they have now purchased other works by Francine Rivers.

My point is this. There are times when I feel like tsk-ing when I do not see more representation of gifted multicultural authors on Christian bestsellers list or in Christian publications or secular publications for that matter. I know for a fact Christian fiction has a diverse readership. Why then is it not reflected across the board? Why should readers have to miss out on the rich diversity and amazing life changing stories that are present in Christian publishing because books are rarely cross marketed or promoted in more places where readers of diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds and interests can find them?

As is evident with the favorable responses to Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, clearly, the readers who wouldn’t have otherwise found this title or considered this title because it wasn’t marketed to them, just might disagree with the way books they really desire, need and want to find out about are marketed. In book marketing, by the focus being only on a narrow market, instead of a narrow and general market, are Christian readers and book buyers and non Christian readers and book buyers not benefiting from that which they want to benefit from: Discovering good stories by gifted authors with messages that impact lives? After all, a good story knows no boundaries.

On the Christian book promotion trail,
© Marina Woods

Stereotyping Black Christian Fiction

Is Black Christian Fiction a fried chicken eating good time?
Uganda poet and novelist, Doreen Baingana at the Guardian wrote an interesting article today, titled Our Stories aren't all Tragedies.
African writers and other "ethnic" writers are seen and read primarily as representatives of their ethnic groups, if not the continent as a whole. But we do not write guidebooks or manuals on contemporary or traditional African life, so we must not be expected to portray what is considered a typical African experience.

I have experienced the same awkward encounter as an African American writer, especially since I am southern and my mothers have been in this country since forever. But as a christian fiction writer that adds a whole new layer to the conversation. It's as if I am a not "keepin' it real," if I don't write about fried chicken,homosexual tambourine players and growing marijuana in grandma's backyard.

My godmother and personal pied piper told me the other day, "Vida Pooh, make sure you got some juicy stuff happening in that book or no one will want to read it, but your family."

Didn't want to tell her how last year my writing group disapproved and responded to an Atlanta Journal article that described Black Christian Fiction as "fried-chicken-eating, money-grubbing, behind-grabbing preachers" books. The excuse they received from the AJC editor was that he was under deadline so he didn't do all his fact checking.
Is that the case with most media today? Not enough fact checking just feeding off our inability to check the double standard. Listening to my godmother, too?

As a christian writer(irregardless of your race, gender, red or blue state) what common stereotypes do others believe about what you do?
And what are great suggestions to defunk those myths?

Hurry, comment quick because I need to give my godmom a very well thought out, bible verse-backed response to why the only juice going on in my WIP is the orange juice at the dinner table. :)

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,

Monday, August 01, 2005

August 2005 CBA Top Twenty

Ranking Title Author/Publisher
1 (3) Fame Karen Kingsbury, Tyndale, p
2 (4) The Revelation Beverly Lewis, Bethany House, p
3 (6) Monster Frank Peretti, WestBow (Nelson), c
4 (20) One Tuesday Morning Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan, p
5 (22) Breaker's Reef Terri Blackstock, Zondervan, p
6 (23) Redeeming Love Francine Rivers, Multnomah, p
7 (25) Moonlight on the Millpond Lori Wick, Harvest House, p
8 (32) The Rising Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale, c
9 (34) Beyond Tuesday Morning Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan, p
10 (37) Oceans Apart Karen Kingsbury, Zondervan, p
11 Redeeming Love Francine Rivers, Multnomah, p
12 Evidence of Mercy Terri Blackstock, Zondervan, p
13 A Thousand Tomorrows Karen Kingsbury, Center Street (Warner Faith), c
14 The Covenant Beverly Lewis, Bethany House, p
15 A Bride Most Begrudging Deeanne Gist, Bethany House, p
16 The Warrior Francine Rivers, Tyndale, c
17 Redemption Gary Smalley & Karen Kingsbury, Tyndale, p
18 Whence Came a Prince Liz Curtis Higgs, WaterBrook, p
19 Thr3e Ted Dekker, WestBow (Nelson), p
20 Blink Ted Dekker, WestBow (Nelson), p

Why Fiction Matters: Saint Ralph

Michael McGowan, writer/director of Saint Ralph, a Warner Bros. movie that will be released August 5th, spoke to Movienet about one reason why he wrote this story.
...I was interested in exploring the notion of faith—or in this case, misguided faith—by using the Catholic Church as a backdrop. I felt a modern setting with priests at an all-boys school would necessitate exploring some of the darker issues that the church is facing and these weren’t part of the story. Perhaps more importantly, in the 1950s, for many Catholics, the church defined their world. It was the starting and stopping place. Either you were Catholic or you weren’t. This was important because the protagonist, Father Fitzpatrick, then becomes much more of a threat. To go up against someone like him, as Ralph does, would have serious ramifications. I didn’t feel like the stakes would be nearly as high today.

Question: Are there any raised stakes in Christianity today? What are they and can they be important enough to be discussed in our novels in progress?

Writing to see what the end's gon' be,


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